The teenager (Andor, Cassian. Second Lieutenant. Intelligence operative for the Alliance to Restore the Republic) looks up. His face remains impassive. His dark eyes catalogue every movement and sound.
“You do not trust your fellow Rebels, even though you should. Yet, you trust me enough to be your only companion on an Intelligence mission."
Andor cranes his neck up at him. K-2SO notes that at 5 feet 6 inches, Andor's height is below average for a human male. There is a very high chance that Andor suffered from malnutrition as a child.
Andor laughs coldly. “I reprogrammed you. Every single one of your circuits.”
“It is impossible for you to reprogram 'every single one of my circuits'. To ensure basic functionality, 10.5% of circuits in a droid’s body must always be wired in a certain order. For instance, a- ”
“You know what I mean,” Andor snaps.
“In order to determine 'what you mean', as you put it, I will take, as input, that statement and the logic that if you are intelligent enough to reprogram an advanced Imperial droid, you are intelligent enough be aware of the statistics I just mentioned. I also take into account your current aggressive body language and tone. As output, I infer 'what you mean' is that you are 100% sure that there is no code in my processors that will betray you.”
Andor does not reply.
The K-2SO that existed before the Great Reprogramming (as K-2SO terms it) would have let this go. (The K-2SO before the Great Reprogramming would never have thought to speak so brazenly.)
The K-2SO after the Great Reprogramming does not have a filter and says whatever comes through his circuits.
K-2SO has yet to determine whether this change increases or decreases his odds of survival. Further information is required before simulations can be run.
“You have yet to answer my question.”
The ship's engines hum.
“A good Intelligence officer gives nothing away. There is a 36.4% chance that you will exceed the average life expectancy for an Intelligence operative.”
Uninterrupted, the ship's engines hum on.
Undeterred, K-2SO barrels on.
"If you must know, your youth reduces your survival rate by 9.4%."
"Child soldiers are useful in covert operations," retorts Andor.
K-2SO notes the statements that Andor responds to. "My study of history shows that your statement has been true in almost all previous wars. However, youth has its disadvantages."
“Our destination's coordinates.” Andor points at a datapad. “Please perform the necessary calculations.”
There are numerous ways he could sabotage Andor. No one would ever know.
However, from the moment K-2SO whirred to life, processors on overload attempting to calculate what had happened to him, Andor had been clear that K-2SO was his own droid.
(“Why did you reprogram me?”
"Staring at datapads all day is boring."
"You said I can disobey you. Is that true?"
“I order you to sit down.”
A spark shoots through K-2SO as he finds that although he is programmed to note the human's voice, he can, indeed, resist that order. His previous programmers did not make this possible. The human climbs on a nearby chair and draws himself up to his full height (5 feet 6 inches). From this vantage point, he is almost at K-2SO's height.
“I reprogrammed you because I think, given a choice, droids would like a will of their own.”)
They make the jump to hyperspace. Andor checks and rechecks instruments. He takes minutes to replicate the calculations that took K-2SO mere seconds. Finally, he draws his brows together and he looks up at K-2SO.
“You don't seem to have betrayed me.”
“I have decided that I will not, so long as you do not betray me.”
Andor’s eyes flicker. A movement that takes 402.5 milliseconds. K-2SO registers it to an ever-growing database of records about Andor.
“Others have double-checked my work. A droid with remnants of Imperial programming is a danger to the Rebellion.”
K-2SO infers that while Andor does not completely trust his fellow Rebels, Andor (rightly) concludes that their self-preservation instincts will prevent them from betraying him.
K-2SO wonders (a strange feature Andor added - the ability for a droid to wonder) about Andor's past. A teenage second lieutenant with trust issues hints at a war-torn childhood.
“Did you consider that they inserted additional code to use me to monitor you?”
Andor looks at K-2SO in disgust.
“Did you think I didn't monitor them and re-check your code afterwards?”
Unusually high levels of paranoia and perfectionism, records K-2SO.
Since the Great Reprogramming, K-2SO has not been powered up for more than 3.5 standard hours. Andor powered him down the moment he could not supervise K-2SO. However, this time, although Andor explicitly indicates that he will be unconscious, he does not reach over to power K-2SO down and disconnect K-2SO’s wires.
With Andor asleep, K-2SO finally rifles through any Rebellion databases he can access with his extremely limited security code. Minutes later, having backed up those Rebellion databases to his memory banks, K-2SO pauses and deliberates the merits of hacking into protected databases. Hard, but possible. However, that could create trouble for Andor.
Would that count as a betrayal?
There could be information in those databases above Andor’s clearance level. Such information could help Andor. However, it could also result in military sanctions should higher-ranked officials discover K-2SO’s actions. K-2SO is aware that as little as Andor trusts him, everyone else trusts him even less.
K-2SO considers the value of trust. Something he never had to before.
He runs hundreds of simulations of possible outcomes and weighs them. He decides that this time, at least, hacking into databases is betraying Andor.
Satisfied with his deliberations. K-2SO returns to Andor’s file.
Andor’s file (the part that K-2SO does not need to hack into) is sparse.
Andor, Cassian Jeron
Rank: Second Lieutenant
Age: 17 years
Joined the Rebellion at age 6. No known family.
However, K-2SO now knows more than the first name, the last name, the rank, the department, and the gender of his reprogrammer.
It is a start.
They finish the mission in half the expected time.
Andor types furiously into his datapad. As they glide towards the hangar, he finally looks up.
“I have to power you down once we land. Base regulations.”
K-2SO approves of the Rebellion's levels of paranoia. It increases their chances of survival. However, he does not expect Andor’s next words.
“I don’t think we should treat you like a prisoner. I will argue for your clearance.”
The plane rolls to a stop. “I’m sorry,” says Andor. It’s the last thing K-2SO hears before his shutdown procedures take over.
K-2SO carries out four more missions with Andor and other Intelligence operatives.
A day after that fifth mission, as he stands watch over Andor's medbay bed, Commander Davits Draven grants K-2SO additional security clearance and allows K-2SO to roam the base unsupervised.
Andor, still in pain from a healing blaster wound, does not smile. However, he presses his lips together and radiates satisfaction.
Commander Draven also promotes Andor to First Lieutenant. K-2SO spends his first 5 minutes of unsupervised freedom calculating the proportion of Cassian's satisfaction that resulted from K-2SO's additional security clearance.
It is an adequate proportion.
The next day, Andor states that should K-2SO wish, he can be assigned to Andor. Otherwise, K-2SO is free to find his place in the Rebellion. Should K-2SO wish to leave, Andor will reprogram him to remove any knowledge K-2SO has of the Rebellion. K-2SO will still have his own will.
"You have a day to run all your calculations," says Andor. A hint of a smirk crosses his lips.
K-2SO does not run a single calculation. "I would be honoured to be assigned to you," he says. Andor's eyes widen.
Andor swallows, and then speaks. “If we're officially a team... You can call me Cassian, if you want.”
An invitation to address a human by their first name generally indicates a greater level of trust. It is nice to be trusted, K-2SO decides. It is also nice to not be alone. “That is agreeable. I will update my files, Cassian.”
K-2SO considers. He does trust Cassian. Perhaps now would be a good time to demonstrate it.
"K-2SO is four syllables. A mouthful for most humans. Perhaps you would like to address me by a shorter name."
Cassian frowns. "It's your name. The number of syllables is, as you would say, irrelevant."
“I have not heard anyone repeatedly address you as Cassian Jeron Andor.” K-2SO says Cassian's name in an extremely formal voice. It has the desired effect - Cassian makes a face and concedes the point.
"How about K-2?"
K-2 it is.
Unsurprisingly, an Imperial droid blends in perfectly on the Imperial worlds that their missions frequently take them to.
Surprisingly, Cassian has a late growth spurt in his 20th year.
("As I have repeatedly informed you, Cassian, should you consume more protein, the probability that you will experience a second growth spurt increases to 73.4%."
"Fine. Your probabilities are right. Happy?"
"I believe you are the happier one, Cassian. Perhaps you might follow my suggestions to improve other aspects of your life."
Cassian derives no small measure of satisfaction when the medical droids finally update his records to display 'Height: 5 feet 9 inches.' (His height, or rather the lack thereof, has always been one of his sore points.)
Cassian is promoted to captain before his 22nd birthday. K-2's security clearances increase.
Then one day, they are sent on a mission to 'save the galaxy' (strange words coming from General Draven who is not given to hyperbole) and K-2 marks another milestone in his record of his life.
There is Before Jyn and After Jyn. And life After Jyn is a chaos of ever-changing variables, spinning out of K-2's variance thresholds. Worse, she has some currently-unquantifiable effect on Cassian.
K-2 attempts to summarize the situation. "Be careful, Cassian. She changes your behaviour."
Cassian does not reply. For the first time, K-2's perpetually-updated probability that Cassian will survive their next mission drops to single digits.
Cassian has already lived longer than most Intelligence agents. K-2 has always created regular backups. However, the night before they leave for Eadu, K-2 creates and stashes an additional 10 backups around the base and in various transports.
K-2 chooses to ignore the probability that Cassian will use K-2's backups.
Were a human privy to K-2's decisions, they might say that K-2 has decided to hope.